The four am starts and the two pages a day have resulted in a completed manuscript, marked by the elegant phrase ‘The End’. I then started in on the next project, in longhand again, HB pencil scratching against the page and seeing what comes out.
I like longhand because it is organic, less pressure and you’re not tempted to send it out before you’re ready to. You can cross out dud lines, make notes towards structure and noodle in the margins in order to capture important information. The benefit of experience and routine is that you can start to focus on specific things, whilst still preserving the flow of exploration.
Each book benefit from the lessons learned on the last one, but there will be new challenges and risks ahead of me. I aim to improve with each book and it’s a matter of flinging myself off the cliff and hoping that I learn to fly on the way down. So, with some of the pressure off that a book-length project demands, I will be resuming a more fecund schedule of posting.
Finishing a project is a mixture of relief and regret, and starting the next one is an opportunity to wrestle with doubt again. The cure, though, is the work itself and I will always be putting the energy somewhere. To be all things to all people is oftentimes a recipe for alienating everyone, so I spent a lot of time working on the book, preparing short fiction and studying as well as large amounts of reading for pleasure and inspiration too.
It’s the same process. Two pages a day, every day. Editing is done at a good clip and I work from my agent’s notes accurately and warmly before I send them back. There’s no magic to be sprinkled around, just a dedication and a framing of the work as part of my purpose and it’s application. It turns down the volume on the thing that do not matter. Why fret about the things that you cannot control when there are things that you can? I’ve been dipping into Seneca’s letters and there’s something that he says in one that is just lovely.
Be kind to each other.